Daytona International Speedway
With a mile-long facility and over 100,000 seats that has just seen a $400 million overhaul, the Daytona Rising project at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway needed something special in applications that could bring both convenience and empowerment to its attendees. The International Speedway Corporation (ISC) announced at the end of May that AVAI Mobile won the opportunity to do just that. With a platform for state-of-the-art applications that will put everything from wayfinding to live in-car streaming video in the hands of their fans, ISC and AVAI are already seeing feedback that Craig Tarr, senior director of digital and interactive applications at ISC, called “fantastic.”
Tarr said that ISC first came to AVAI in 2011 when the corporation had been looking to enter the mobile app space. AVAI was able to deliver on a tight schedule, and the relationship has been strong ever since, scaling up to the new Daytona Rising project.
He said that the rollout has gone very well, engaging fans in new and inventive ways that, in his words, has “elevated the experience because you don’t know what’s available as a fan. So this has made it much easier for us to deliver that information to the fan, that you can come here and see all of these great things, participate and interact, whereas in the past that just wasn’t there.”
Jim Cheshire, director at AVAI Mobile, said that his company’s strengths reside in the ability to take app strategies out of the hands of developers and put them under the control of marketing teams. The company’s expertise in mobile apps and integration of analytics across their customizable platform make them especially proficient at meeting whatever demands their clients have without having to build apps from scratch.
“When you can take what traditionally has been a very customized approach to providing integration,” Cheshire said, “and put it on a web form with some check boxes to turn it on and configure a few parameters, when you can take custom and migrate it to configurability, that’s where we excel.”
Josh Meler, marketing manager at AVAI Mobile, said that this customizable element of AVAI’s platform makes the collection of data, a central tenant of ISC’s current plan, even more efficient. “Reporting back data,” said Meler, “and giving them more data apart from that data, and giving them retargeting information is paramount to their strategy right now.”
Where projects have been scattered at best or unknown at worst, AVAI has brought what Founder and CEO Rand Arnold called an evolution of apps toward a consolidation of resources. He shared that FanCam, which is “like a 20 gigabyte photo of the event,” consolidates hundreds of multigig photos of the event and shares them with fans.
“It’s one of those things that they had available but nobody would have ever known about it or looked if it hadn’t been right there in the app,” Rand said.
Meler spoke to the way in which the fan experience was held as the guiding light for their work. With 800 beacons installed around the Daytona facility using Bluetooth low energy technology, the Daytona app can recognize a user’s location at any time, guiding them from their cars to their seats and anywhere else they woud like to go with turn-by-turn directions.
Meler also shared that the technology is capable of identifying high-traffic areas, like an especially crowded concession stand or restroom and redirect users using push notifications to different areas.
The experience of watching the race itself has also been enhanced by FanVision, a case-like device available for rent at the racetrack. FanVision allows fans to see live feed inside of racecars and tune into different radio frequencies, all while charging the phone and not tapping into a user’s cellular network.
Meler said that the inspiration for the device as well as the rest of AVAI’s approach is rooted in immersing the fan experience in every way possible.
“You’re watching the race, you’re connected to your favorite driver and you’re listening in on a headset,” said Meler describing the first-person perspective enabled by FanVision, which also operates on AVAI’s platform. “Then you’re bouncing around the other drivers to see what’s going on in the race and how’s your guy doing.”
The benefits do not stop at just the fans. Tarr said that Daytona’s five partners, Toyota, Sunoco, Florida Hospital, Chevrolet, and RED Legacy, receive increased exposure while also sharing the experience that goes along with their respective parts in races. On the live feeds, Tarr said viewers enter the different injector areas, where they can see the drivers and crews at work while learning more about the company. This strengthens partnerships with sponsors while also giving them room to share more with their target markets.
As enormous as the implementation is, Daytona is the first “building block,” according to Meler. “As we build the integration in for ISC, they can then leverage that pretty seamlessly across the other venues.”
Danny McKean, business development manager at AVAI Mobile, said that the feedback has proven to be the best sign of a mutually beneficial future ahead of both ISC and AVAI.
“You know with software after you build it out if it was successful or not successful,” McKean said, “and the fact that they are still calling us and we are still building out for their events for the rest of the year, that’s been, in my eyes, one of the best successes.”
Interviewed for this story: Rand Arnold, (512) 301-9445; Jim Cheshire, (512) 301-9445; Danny McKean, (512) 301-9445; Josh Meler, (512) 301-9445; Craig Tarr, (386) 681-6879